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What will your child’s school do if you and your ex-spouse disagree about an educational decision?

After your divorce, you and your ex-spouse will likely share (to one extent or another) the decision-making responsibilities associated with your child going to school. Sometimes that could mean a decision regarding whether or not to have your child skip a grade or be held back. It could mean the decision revolves around whether or not to allow your child to enter into a special education course in a subject where he is struggling. Regardless, these are usually emotionally volatile situations that can lead to disagreements between parents.

Odds are you and your ex-spouse will not agree on every single contested issue that comes before you that relates to your child. If you disagree with one another regarding an educational decision, the next question you need to ask yourselves is what will happen to your child? Will the school be able to move forward with what it says best? Will you and your ex-spouse need to see the judge? In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss this subject in greater detail.

A school will look to a court order whenever you and your ex-spouse disagree

If you have been to court and have been issued a court order signed by a judge, that order will be consulted in order to determine what role each parent can play in the educational decision making in reference to a child.

It may be that you are the only parent who has to be consulted when it comes to making decisions regarding education for your child. If that is the case then this becomes a much easier question and the school can move forward with whatever decision you make. Your ex-spouse may disagree with your decision, but that means he or she will need to take it up the judge in an attempted modification of that order.

It gets trickier if there is no court order in place or if the current order requires you and your child’s other parent to agree on educational decisions for one to be made. While you and your ex-spouse work to arrive at a conclusion regarding what to do, the school will have to wait. They cannot do anything without your permission and that of your spouse. The best thing that your child’s school can do is provide both of you with information with which a better decision can be reached.

In the end, if a mutually agreeable decision cannot be reached, many families will just head back to the courthouse and attempt to modify the order in a way that is favorable to their side. Most schools will not weigh in on what parent is doing the better job of parenting your child. Before you negotiate parental rights and duties in your divorce, you need to consider the long term consequences in areas like education.

What to do about picking your child up from school

Suppose that you pick your child up from school every day. However, in your divorce, you and your spouse agreed to a Standard Possession Order. Given these circumstances how can you proceed?

In many cases, parents like you will mutually agree to not abide by all the terms of your Standard Possession Order. You are completely able to create your own customized parenting plan that better suits your circumstances. The Standard Possession Order will act as a fall back plan for those times that you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a plan.

An issue can arise in situations like this, however, when your child’s school does not know who will be picking him up from school. They can always refer to your orders in a pinch, but since you do not have to follow those orders to the letter there can be problems that potentially arise.

The school may take it upon themselves to remind you and your ex-spouse that for the safety of your child that teachers and administrators would like to know ahead of time when the routine will be changed. Providing written notice to the school of any anticipated changes in the transportation schedule would be appreciated.

A quick phone call or short email can make a huge difference to eliminate confusion among those people at your child's school who is in charge of making sure the kids go with the correct parent on a certain day. I have seen situations where both parents go to the school to pick up a child and there can be difficulties when the child can only go home with one of the parents. At the very least you will be asked by the school to provide written notice of about any anticipated changes to the Standard Possession Order.

What happens if a parent wants to eat lunch with their child every day at school?

There is nothing abnormal about you or your child’s other parenting wanting to eat lunch with him or her at school once a month. What can become burdensome (and this is something that I have seen happen) is when one parent wants to eat lunch at school every single day. A divorce decree will usually state that both you and your child’s other parent will be able to attend school activities. It doesn’t matter which parent is in possession of your child.

Additionally, many school districts in Texas will allow you and your ex-spouse to visit your child at school during lunchtime. I can remember fondly when my mom would come to school when I was a kiddo. She would sometimes come with some lunch from a restaurant for a friend and me, which was always a special activity.

However, in other families, that type of situation could get out of hand. Imagine a scenario playing out where you and your child's other parent both come to school during lunch to see your child. While you may do this every once in a while, it can become distracting if your ex-spouse were to do this every day.

In the situation I was alluding to a moment ago, I have seen an opposing party come to school literally every day with Subway sandwiches for his kids. Our client, who had made box lunches, would get extremely frustrated with this because it was an unnecessary distraction for her children since he was beginning to come to school every day.

Basically, the school will keep an eye on the situation and will need to make a determination if your spouse going to lunch at school every day has become a distraction or not. I doubt that each school or school district has a set in stone policy, either.

So, your child’s school will likely be making a judgment called based on its own experiences and the recommendations of its administrators. The emotional well-being of your child is surely attached to their educational well-being. Do not be surprised if your child’s school asks your ex-spouse to limit their visits to the school if they believe that the visits are having an adverse effect on your child or any other student.

Parent-Teacher Conference: A potential site for disagreement between parents

I don’t think that anyone would attempt to argue that a parent-teacher conference wasn’t a school activity. As such, it is likely that both you and your child’s other parent have the ability to both attend this event. However, unlike a basketball game played in front of a hundred people in a large gymnasium, this event will be held in a small classroom with only you, your child’s teacher and your ex-spouse.

Your child’s school will invite you and your ex-spouse to both attend the event. Given that teachers, depending on the school are often very busy on the night of parent-teacher conferences, you may not be able to have separate time slots scheduled for you and your ex-spouse. Also, it does not matter that the event is scheduled during the school week when you are in possession of your child. Your ex-spouse may attend this activity regardless of whether or not he or she is in possession of your child on the evening the conferences are held.

Unless your court order bars your ex-spouses from attending events like this, or their parental rights have been terminated outright, you can expect that the school will welcome both you and your child's other parent to the conference. Hopefully, you and your ex-spouse are in a place where you can attend this event together without an issue. However, if you are reading this blog post something tells me that this is, unfortunately, not the case.

If your child’s school has a reason to believe that there could be some conflict when you and your ex-spouse attend the conference then separate conferences may be scheduled. Or, you may need to work out a separate day for you or your ex-spouse to attend separately.

What happens if your ex-spouse wants another person to pick up your child from school?

Now you are about six months removed from your divorce and your ex-spouse's boyfriend/girlfriend, mother or new husband/wife wants to be able to pick your child up from school. It is essential that your child has a support system that he or she is able to rely upon after the divorce. That support system will oftentimes include people that fall into these categories. Imagine how much important it will be to have your child be able to have loving persons available to care for him or her after your marriage has ended.

However, unless there is a court order that provides a legal right to a person or persons as far as being able to pick your child up from school, then the rights of these type of relatives are inferior to your own rights as a parent. You may designate a competent adult to pick your child up from school or to drop him or her off from school only during your periods of possession. This means that you have no say-so over who can pick your child up from school as long as that other person is allowed by the school to do so.

Many schools will require parents to provide them the names of alternative parties who can pick their child up from school. When you are in possession of your child, you can do the same if you choose to do so.

How involved can your child’s school get in a potential family court case? Come back tomorrow to find out

In tomorrow’s blog post we will wrap up our blog post series on education and family law in Texas by discussing what can happen if you need to go back to court. What role could school records or even school administrators play in your case? If this is a relevant topic for you and your child I recommend that you head back to our blog tomorrow and to read about this subject with us.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that you have read today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys work on behalf of families just like yours across southeast Texas. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients and putting their interests first.

Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions about your life and to receive direct feedback from an experienced attorney.

We will not only give you time to ask your questions but we will take the time to sit with you and go over some initial thoughts about your case with you. It is invaluable to get perspective from a person that has a great deal of experience having worked in the same courthouse where your family law case will be held.

We appreciate you spending some time with us today on our blog and we look forward to your joining us tomorrow, as well.

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  3. What considerations to take when considering changing your child's school
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorcelawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles divorcecases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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